Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar Eclipse - limelight or ill omen?

While the world marveled the total solar eclipse 2009 earlier today morning, my Japanese workmates in Tokyo were least interested to know anything about it.

Occurring for the first time in 46yrs, the next predicted to be in 2132, the sun, moon and earth aligned themselves for 6 mins 39 secs to create near darkness after dawn in Asia and the Pacific regions.

I was thrilled to receive constant updates in Japan from my twin sister who watched the eclipse in our hometown of Patna (India), which was one of ideal cities to view the occurrence. She told me that her excitement matched nothing compared to that of one of our helpers at home, whose small village of Taregna was the BEST spot to view the eclipse.

With more than two lakh researchers, astronomers, scientists and people from across the globe descend in Taregna to view the event, the villagers didn't know what they had done to deserve the sudden limelight. Taregna (means "stars" in the local language) and nearby Khagual (derived from khagshastra which means "astronomy") are the places where the 6th century astronomer-mathematician ARYABHATTA* had camped and built his observatory at the Sun Temple for his studies.
*ARYABHATTA found the notion of zero and also proposed that the earth rotates on its axis.

It gave me a kick to think that in India, where superstitions sometimes takes the excitement out of people's lives (like the eclipse being a bad omen i.e. a triumph of the evil over good) people, even in a rural areas, were more concerned whether they would get a view of the eclipse more than anything else.

For me this a positive change in the mindset and I don't think there are any ill omens to it. Moreover, it is inspiring to see people be in awe of the universe unlike my workmates in Japan who don't seem to care about anything.

Life is to enjoy, celebrate and be happy about and not just stare at a screen 24/7.

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